Stephen Fry hands-on with Apple iPad: A magical object gives users an extraordinary feeling

“Well bless my soul and whiskers. This is the first time I’ve joined the congregation at the Church of Apple for a new product launch,” Stephen Fry writes for The New Adventures of Stephen Fry. “I finally made it. I came to San Francisco for the launch of the iPad. Oh, happy man.”

“I know there will be many who have already taken one look and pronounced it to be nothing but a large iPhone and something of a disappointment,” Fry writes. “I have heard these voices before. In June 2007 when the iPhone was launched I collected a long list of ‘not impressed,’ ‘meh,’ ‘big deal,’ ‘style over substance,’ ‘it’s all hype,’ ‘my HTC TyTN can do more,’ ‘what a disappointment,’ ‘majorly underwhelmed’ and similar reactions.”

Fry writes, “Neither they, nor I, nor anyone, predicted the ‘game-changing’ effect the phone would so rapidly have as it evolved into a 3G, third-party app rich, compass and GPS enabled market leader.”

MacDailyNews Take: Ahem, someone predicted it, along with the iPad itself: Apple’s “iPhone” isn’t really a phone at all. It’s really a small touchscreen Mac OS X computer, a Mac nano tablet, it you will. Here’s how misnamed the iPhone is: some people are complaining that Jobs didn’t spend enough time on the Mac in his keynote! Folks, iPhone is not only a Mac, it’s the most radical new Mac in years! What’s to stop Apple from making a 12-inch (and larger, and smaller) one of these (use the headset for the phone, please) and calling it a Mac tablet?

It has an iPod built in, yes, so it can be used solely as a “true video widescreen iPod,” if that’s what you want. And even using it just like that, the price is about right. It also has a smartphone built in, too; except this smartphone’s UI actually makes sense and is usable. Even if you just use it as a smartphone, the price is right, too.

But, the main thing about the “iPhone” is that it’s really a pocket Mac. It has email, SMS, full-featured Web browsing, and much more. But, beyond that, it is a platform that’s just sitting there waiting for Apple to sell software for it. Just imagine games with the large multi-touch display and the built-in accelerometer!

Imagine all of the other software possibilities, too… With Wi-Fi onboard these things could beam data between each other like crazy. The possibilities are endless.

No matter how you look at it, for all that it can do even now, the device is very well priced and should fly off the shelves regardless of its name…. So, yeah, it can be a phone, even the very best smartphone, but it’s so much more and holds so much promise that the name “iPhone” hardly does it justice.SteveJack, MacDailyNews, January 09, 2007, the day Steve Jobs unveiled the original iPhone

MacDailyNews Note: If you think that was prescient, read this: Is Apple building ‘The Device?’ – SteveJack, MacDailyNews, December 10, 2002

Fry continues, “Even if it had proved a commercial and business disaster instead of an astounding success, iPhone would remain the most significant release of its generation because of its effect on the smartphone habitat. Does anybody seriously believe that Android, Nokia, Samsung, Palm, BlackBerry and a dozen others would since have produced the product line they have without the 100,000 volt taser shot up the jacksie that the iPhone delivered to the entire market?”

“Nonetheless, even if they couldn’t see that THREE BILLION apps would be downloaded in 2 years (that’s half a million app downloads a day, give or take ) could they not see that this device was gorgeous, beautifully made, very powerful and capable of development into something extraordinary?” Fry asks. “I see those qualities in the iPad. Like the first iPhone, iPad 1.0 is a John the Baptist preparing the way of what is to come, but also like iPhone 1.0 (and Jokanaan himself too come to that) iPad 1.0 is still fantastic enough in its own right to be classed as a stunningly exciting object, one that you will want NOW and one that will not be matched this year by any company.”

Fry writes, “There are many issues you could have with the iPad. No multitasking, still no Flash. No camera, no GPS. They all fall away the minute you use it. I cannot emphasise enough this point: “Hold your judgment until you’ve spent five minutes with it”. No YouTube film, no promotional video, no keynote address, no list of features can even hint at the extraordinary feeling you get from actually using and interacting with one of these magical objects.”

“The moment you experience it in your hands you know this is class,” Fry explains. “This is a different order of experience. The speed, the responsiveness, the smooth glide of it, the richness and detail of the display, the heft in your hand, the rightness of the actions and gestures that you employ, untutored and instinctively, it’s not just a scaled up iPhone or a scaled-down multitouch enhanced laptop – it is a whole new kind of device. And it will change so much. Newspapers, magazines, literature, academic text books, brochures, fliers and pamphlets are going to be transformed (poor Kindle). Specific dedicated apps and enhancements will amaze us.”

Oh, there’s much, much more in the excellent full article — very highly recommendedhere.

See also the following video via The Beeb: Stephen Fry’s verdict of Apple’s iPad touchscreen tablet

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Daniel L.” for the heads up.]


  1. I’m curious if ATT will allow tethering the iPhone to the WiFi version of the iPad, this would assist in providing an always on connection and GPS via the iPhone. Also, gaming companies can allow the iPhone to act as a Wii controller for iPad games that are docked and displayed on the TV. A multitouch version of Garageband would be great too if the Camera Kit USB adapter could be used to connect a Midi keyboard. The possibilities seem limitless. FourTrack updated would probably be a good start if Garageband isn’t ported over.

  2. Via Wifi Ad-hock or bluetooth tethering, couldn’t the iPhone’s GPS, Camera and built-in Microphone be accessible to the iPad? So in a car, one can have the iPhone docked in the back window to show rear view traffic while also providing GPS to the iPad.

  3. People are missing the point the success of the ipad is going to be the apps designed for it. With the apps you can do the same as a laptop and some things even better. I’m even thinking of designing some apps for my business now that ipad has iWork too

  4. @ eon2010,

    The photographers in our photo department all already have our own iPhones but our employer also supply Sprint MiFi’s. That combined with the iPad will make a perfect combination. All we will need is the WiFi only version of the iPad to download, edit, caption, and transmit photos while still standing where we just shot the photo.
    I will then be able to use the same MiFi to connect my PowerBook (yes, we’re still using PowerBooks) to the internet.

    A GPS would have been nice, but it’s not a deal breaker.
    Same could be said for a camera, third party multi-tasking, FireWire, or a flux capacitor.

  5. The iPad will be just as big or bigger then the iPhone. Just like other state, what will sell these babyes will be the incredible Applications available for it. I can see all sort of deferent things being built for it, from music to medical to managerial, point of purchase you name it.

  6. All the features that were “left out” ran the price tags above what SJ wanted to announce. Sticker shock, or the opposite, sticker attraction was the goal.

    All these things will be added in future incarnations. Maybe they also needed a little more time to finish the “peripherals”.

    By this time next year, you will be able to buy an iPad with all the goodies you want (and 128GB SSD) for about the current top price.

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